Animal People

Date of Award


Degree Type

Closed Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


English and Theatre

First Advisor

R. Dean Johnson

Department Affiliation

English and Theatre

Second Advisor

Julie Hensley

Department Affiliation

English and Theatre

Third Advisor

Nancy Jensen

Department Affiliation

English and Theatre


Animal People is a collection of nonfiction essays chronicling my experience working in the pet retail industry. The essays begin with my first day as a pet care associate at PetSmart and the essays include observations of rescue groups, interactions with kooky animal lovers, and my struggle to think and act rationally while combating (and sometimes enjoying) mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. It is also an exploration of my childhood through various pets I had throughout my life.

The methods that I used when crafting this collection include hands-on experience as an employee at a major pet retail chain, experimenting with essay form, and by utilizing subtext. The critical text Crafting the Personal Essay, by Dinty W. Moore, was especially valuable in the exploration of form and structure. For subtext, my thesis advisor read the collection and offered questions and insight so that I could fully realize the potential of the emotional aspect of working with and caring for animals.

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